Arthur Blank Nails Two Card-Related Patents

Boston-based Arthur Blank & Co. has received two new patents covering a one piece hangtag and combination card, and keytag sets, as well as a method of manufacturing transaction items of varying kinds so that they are accurately numbered and uniquely produced in exact sequential order. U.S. Patent No. 6,588,658 dated July 8, 2003, entitled “Transaction Card with Attached Auxiliary Members” relates to a one piece hangtag and combination card, and keytag sets. U.S. Patent No. 6,592,035 dated July 15, 2003, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Rapid, Serial Transaction Item Fabrication” relates to a method of manufacturing transaction items of varying kinds so that they are accurately numbered and uniquely produced in exact sequential order. Arthur Blank & Co., Inc., located at 225 Rivermoor Street, Boston, MA 02132, specializes in all facets of custom printed plastic cards.

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VISA Smart Adds More Partners and Launches VISA Smart POS

VISA International now has 19 technology partners in its “VISA Smart Global Partners” program, which is part of the comprehensive “VISA Smart” initiative. VISA reported it now has nearly 100 million EMV smart cards in circulation worldwide, and that the number of deployed EMV-capable acceptance devices has approached two million. Among the vendors making special smart card-related offers for products and services to VISA members are: Barnes International; ICC Solutions; Axalto; Orga; Bell ID; CardBASE; STMicroelectronics; DataCard Group; NBS; Thales e-Security; UbiQ Incorporated; ACI; Gemplus, Giesecke & Devrient; Oberthur Card Systems; NCR; Oasis Technology; SAGEM; and, Welcome Real-time. VISA International also this week announced the launch of “VISA Smart POS,” a low-cost software solution that dramatically reduces the time-to-market of EMV chip acceptance by up to 12 months. The “EMV Level 2” software module is available royalty-free to acquirers, merchants, and vendors. VISA says that small to medium-sized merchants in geographic markets that are committing to EMV chip migration face time-to-market, cost, and implementation challenges that are difficult to overcome using proprietary technology from multiple POS vendors. “VISA Smart POS” requires minimal changes to back office systems and is available for any POS device. Also, POS vendors can overcome the cost of EMV software development and compliance, and these savings can be passed on to merchants. “VISA Smart POS” is written in the industry-standard C++ and Java programming languages with written drivers for “Windows 2000.”

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Online Micropayments Set for Take-Off in 2004

MA-based Peppercoin released a survey that shows 17% of executives it surveyed indicated they expect to generate between $1-10 million in micropayment revenue over the next twelve months, while more than 70% expect to generate less than $1 million via micropayments in the next year. The Company also separately announced that a record label based in Boston will sell the songs from a new rock band album via the Internet, using Peppercoin’s micropayment system. BIG FRANK Records will sell the songs from Catapult’s new CD for 25 cents to 50 cents each. Peppercoin says its survey of 170 senior executives shows that 64% identified online music as offering the greatest potential for micropayments, followed by online games, publishing and video on demand. One fourth of the respondents identified consumer demand as the most significant challenge to be overcome to drive the growth of micropayments. Respondents cited “ease of deployment” and “integration with existing systems” as the most significant enablers for micropayments.

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Secure Payment Systems Snags Anderson

San Diego-based Secure Payment Systems has hired Kim Anderson, formerly of eFunds and Certegy Check Services, lo lead its growth in new key markets. Anderson has over 20 years of senior management and strategic marketing experience in transaction processing, risk management and business processing outsourcing. Prior to 2002, Anderson served as president, Retail and Ecommerce Division for publicly traded eFunds Corporation, a $500 million financial services organization providing transaction processing and risk management solutions. Secure Payment Systems, Inc. (SPS) ([www.securepaymentsystems.com][1]) was founded in 1996 by Linden (Lin) Fellerman, former 20 year employee and 10 year President of the Telecredit / Equifax Check Services subsidiaries.

[1]: http://www.securepaymentsystems.com

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FTC Gets Tough on Credit Counseling Firms

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday filed a lawsuit against Maryland-based AmeriDebt, DebtWorks, and its founders, for misrepresentation of their non-profit status and for deceptive business practices. The FTC charged that the credit-counseling service is setup to make money for affiliated for-profit companies and individuals, rather than operating for charitable purposes. The FTC also alleges that the defendants charged an up-front fee to consumers enrolling in a debt management plan, despite claims to the contrary in their advertising. The companies were also cited for violating the “GLB” Act by failing to provide consumers with the required privacy notices. The attorneys general of Minnesota and Texas are in the process of filing a suit against AmeriDebt. Earlier this year, the attorneys general of Illinois and Missouri filed suits against AmeriDebt. AmeriDebt said Wednesday it will defend itself vigorously against the FTC complaint. On November 1st, the firm says it stopped enrolling new consumer clients and it suspended all television, radio and Internet outreach aimed at attracting new consumer clients. The FTC also confirmed Wednesday that it has reached a settlement with Ballenger Group for its role in the AmeriDebt operation. Ballenger acted as the servicer for AmeriDebt’s DMPs since the beginning of this year. The FTC says Ballenger was closely associated with the other defendants and that it repeated some of AmeriDebt’s misrepresentations in direct statements to consumers on the telephone. Ballenger agreed to pay $750,000 in consumer redress.

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eFunds Unveils IST/AllCard for Multi-Card Issuing

AZ-based eFunds has unveiled “IST/AllCard,” a flexible card issuing product designed to meet current market demands for multi-card issuing and management that also completes the recently launched Oasis “ecoPay” solution suite, which provides complete, pre-integrated solutions for card issuers, processors and payment networks. IST/AllCard addresses these needs by providing a flexible, multi-card issuing solution designed for the most intensive card issuing businesses. Whether issuing cards for single or multiple institutions, IST/AllCard provides a flexible, configuration-based system that helps to reduce the time required to bring new card products to market. eFunds Corporation is an industry leader with nearly 30 years of experience and expertise in electronic payments.

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Most Gift Card Users Will Buy 4 -15 Cards This Year

Yet another survey, released this week, confirms the rapid embrace of gift cards by Americans. Comdata’s Stored Value Systems subsidiary says its poll shows that 87% of adults who have given or received gift cards plan to buy between four and 15 retail gift cards this holiday season with an average amount of $38 per card. SVS says “heavy” gift card users (those who purchased eleven or more cards in the last year) are expected to buy an average of $332. The primary reason expressed for purchasing a gift card is the desire for the recipient to select what they want (44%) , followed by 35% who just didn’t know what to get for someone or didn’t know preferences in color, size, etc. Of those respondents who said they had never purchased a gift card (32%), 22% said they were likely to do so this holiday season. Other findings: those who purchased 11 or more cards per year were significantly more likely to identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino; 65% of all gift card purchases are planned while 28% are impulse buys; and, 15% regularly buy gift cards for themselves.

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Triton ATMs Go Wireless Using 1X Technology

MS-based Triton has introduced a new wireless option for its “FT5000” and “RL5000” ATMs that uses “1XRTT” technology. Triton’s wireless option uses 1XRTT technology, which is a 100% digital data service provided by wireless carriers that use CDMA technology. It is available anywhere regular cell service on CDMA technology exists, including over 95% of the metropolitan U.S. As the leading provider of ATMs for off-premise locations, Triton is committed to redefining and leading the market for cash delivery systems. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America and has more than 95,000 installations in over 17 countries worldwide.

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Providian Launches a Card with a TV Shopping Network

TV shopping network HSN is launching a rewards bank credit card with Providian. The new “HSN Rewards Card” will enable its users to earn points for dollars spent, which they can use towards the purchase of HSN merchandise. Customers will also receive $10 toward a future HSN purchase the first time they use the card. HSN generated worldwide consolidated sales of close to $2 billion in 2002, reaches more households worldwide than any other TV shopping network and is the 4th largest cable television network in the USA.

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Gemplus Takes Smart Cards to Hyper-Speed with a New Concept

Gemplus International this week unveiled a new concept that outstrips all existing smart card limits by giving a traditional smart card real-time deciphering capacity of up to 400 times the original speed. The “Crypto Motion” concept shows that decryption throughput can be increased by simply improving the capacity utilization of available resources, such as programming a cryptographic kernel. The idea for this principle emerged eighteen months ago when the Gemplus R&D team was asked to use existing technology for secure decryption of voice data
transmissions over networks. Crypto motion is the resulting software intended to illustrate the often-overlooked potential of smart cards to protect and decode data streams in real time such as softwares, game or music files.

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VISA Smart Expands to 19 Partners and Adds Low-Cost EMV Migration Software

VISA International said yesterday at the Paris “Cartes 2003” conference that it now has 19 technology partners in its “VISA Smart Global Partners” program, which is part of the comprehensive “VISA Smart” initiative. VISA says it now has nearly 100 million EMV smart cards in circulation worldwide, and that the number of deployed EMV-capable acceptance devices has approached two million. Among the vendors making special smart card-related offers for products and services to VISA members are: Barnes International; ICC Solutions; Axalto; Orga; Bell ID; CardBASE; STMicroelectronics; DataCard Group; NBS; Thales e-Security; UbiQ Incorporated; ACI; Gemplus, Giesecke & Devrient; Oberthur Card Systems; NCR; Oasis Technology; SAGEM; and, Welcome Real-time. VISA International also this week announced the launch of “VISA Smart POS,” a low-cost software solution that dramatically reduces the time-to-market of EMV chip acceptance by up to 12 months. The “EMV Level 2” software module is available royalty-free to acquirers, merchants, and vendors. VISA says that small to medium-sized merchants in geographic markets that are committing to EMV chip migration face time-to-market, cost, and implementation challenges that are difficult to overcome using proprietary technology from multiple POS vendors. “VISA Smart POS” requires minimal changes to back office systems and is available for any POS device. Also, POS vendors can overcome the cost of EMV software development and compliance, and these savings can be passed on to merchants. “VISA Smart POS” is written in the industry-standard C++ and Java programming languages with written drivers for “Windows 2000.”

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SAGEM Monetel and Atmel Partner to Launch Highly-Secured POS Terminals

SAGEM Monetel and Atmel have launched the “SAGEM Monetel EFT 30” secure payment terminal and its “PPR 30 Pin-Pad.” The new terminal accepts all current payment schemes and
card technologies plus meets EMV and PED requirements. The new SAGEM terminals are built around the ARM-based microcontrollers developed in partnership with Atmel. Implemented on 0.18-micron CMOS technology, they capitalize on the synergy between the applications expertise on the part of SAGEM Monetel and the system level integration capability of Atmel. Both companies says these two devices represent the start of a family of jointly-developed products targeting highly-secured POS terminals.

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